Getting Ahead of the Holidays: A November Preparation Guide

By: Gabriel Magan
prepapring for the festive seasons

Ah, Christmas in the Philippines – it’s not just a holiday; it’s a season filled with warmth, laughter, and an unmistakable Filipino flair. Folks who’ve got a place in a subdivision in Cavite are gearing up for Christmas. They’re all hyped and getting ready to chill with the family during this special season. While the rest of the world is busy decking the halls and trimming the trees, Filipinos have their own unique set of traditions and preparations that make the holiday season truly special.

Christmas Traditions in the Philippines

1. Simbang Gabi: The Dawn Mass Marathon

The countdown to Christmas officially kicks off with Simbang Gabi, a series of nine dawn masses held from December 16 to 24. Filipinos wake up before the roosters crow to attend these masses, not just for spiritual reasons, but also to relish in the anticipation of the holiday feast that follows.

2. Parol-Making Madness

In the Philippines, Christmas isn’t complete without the glow of parols (traditional lanterns) lighting up the night. Families come together to create these intricate and colorful lanterns, often using bamboo and papel de Hapon (Japanese paper). It’s a crafty tradition that turns neighborhoods into vibrant kaleidoscopes.

3. Puto Bumbong and Bibingka Galore

When it comes to Christmas treats, Filipinos have a sweet tooth that knows no bounds. Street vendors set up shop outside churches, selling the beloved Puto Bumbong and Bibingka. These rice cake delicacies are a staple after Simbang Gabi, and the aroma of them being cooked on makeshift stoves is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

4. Christmas Carol Karaoke

Asian man giving microphone his wife so she can sing

Filipinos love to sing, and Christmas is the perfect excuse to break out into song. From the moment “Ber” months (September, October, etc.) start, you can hear familiar tunes echoing through homes and malls. Karaoke machines are dusted off, and families and friends gather for impromptu singing sessions that can last until the wee hours.

5. The Great Gift Wrapping Extravaganza

Filipinos take gift-giving seriously, and the wrapping is an art form in itself. Department stores transform into battlefields as shoppers armed with wrapping paper, ribbons, and tape engage in the great gift-wrapping extravaganza. It’s a sight to behold as people meticulously fold, tape, and tie their way to perfectly presented presents.

6. Noche Buena: The Grand Christmas Feast

The pinnacle of Christmas in the Philippines is Noche Buena, the grand Christmas Eve feast. Families come together to indulge in a lavish spread that often includes lechon (roast pig), ham, queso de bola (Edam cheese), and an array of kakanin (rice cakes). It’s a time for feasting, laughter, and creating cherished memories.

7. Salo-salo (Get-togethers) Galore

Filipinos are known for their strong sense of community, and Christmas is the perfect excuse for endless get-togethers. Whether it’s an office party, a neighborhood potluck, or a reunion with friends, the Christmas season is marked by a series of salo-salo events, each one an opportunity to share joy and camaraderie.

In the Philippines, Christmas isn’t just a day; it’s a month-long celebration filled with traditions that bring families and communities closer. From pre-dawn masses to colorful lanterns, sweet delicacies and heartfelt carols, the Filipino way of preparing for Christmas is a unique and festive experience that truly captures the season’s spirit.

The Essential Things to Do in November

November in the Philippines signals the unofficial kickoff to the Christmas frenzy, and there are a few things you might want to get a jump on. First up, figure out when and where you’re catching Simbang Gabi—the pre-dawn masses that usher in the festive season. Trust me; they start early, like the crack of dawn. Next on the agenda, channel your inner artisan and gear up for some parol-making action. Grab the fam or some buddies, gather materials, and get crafty. These lanterns are a staple of Filipino Christmas decor, and making your own adds a personal touch.

People-filled Bazaars to watch for

Amazed by colorful christmas decorations

Don’t sleep on the local Christmas bazaars either. They’re popping up everywhere, and they’re a goldmine for unique decorations, gifts, and all sorts of tasty treats. It’s like a festive treasure hunt—get out there and explore. Now, let’s talk food. Noche Buena is the Christmas Eve feast, and you want to be ready. Start brainstorming your menu early and make that grocery list. Trust me again; you don’t want to be scrambling for ham and queso de bola at the last minute. And of course, what’s Christmas without music? Craft a killer Christmas playlist now, so when the karaoke machine comes out, you’re armed and ready for spontaneous caroling sessions.

Mingle Bells, Jingle Plans

Gift shopping, a necessary evil. Make your list, check it twice, and take advantage of early Christmas sales. Avoid the holiday shopping chaos, if you can. Dust off those Christmas decorations lurking in the closet. Check for casualties from last year’s festivities and take note of what needs fixing or replacing. We don’t want any sad-looking Christmas trees. Got any get-togethers on the horizon? Start coordinating now. Whether it’s family, friends, or both, figure out the plans. Potluck? Assign who’s bringing what. Hosting? Prep the place and get ready for the onslaught of merrymakers.

Kitchen Adventure for the Holiday Season

Feeling a bit adventurous? During the preparation, tackle a new Christmas recipe. Please test it out in advance, so you’re not stressing in the kitchen on the big day. Lastly, amid all the hustle and bustle, take a moment to remember why we’re doing all this. Reflect on the real meaning of Christmas and think about adding a sprinkle of kindness and charity to your holiday traditions.

Holiday Fashion and Style Tips:

Outfits that Sleigh:

Christmas in the Philippines calls for outfits that sleigh (yes, sleigh, not slay!). Think reds, greens, and a touch of gold. Grab that barong or Filipiniana dress and strut your stuff. If you’re feeling extra, throw on a Santa hat because why not? Fashion is all about having fun!

Accessorize Like a Pro:

No outfit is complete without the right accessories. Add a touch of Filipino flair with a beautiful abaca or bamboo handbag. Want to be the talk of the town? Rock some festive tsinelas (slippers) adorned with Christmas lights. Practical and stylish, what a combo!

Deck the Halls, Literally:

Who says decorations are just for Christmas trees? Dress up your home in style. Think capiz shell curtains, twinkling fairy lights, and a strategically placed parol or two. It’s not just your wardrobe that deserves attention—let your living room shine!

DIY Christmas Decorations:

Wreaths that Wow:

Green christmas wreath with decorations, isolated on white background

Step aside, regular wreaths; it’s time to make a statement. Gather some bamboo, pinecones, and a dash of creativity. Voila! You’ve got yourself a unique Christmas wreath that will make the neighbors jealous. Bonus points if you add a touch of local flora for that extra Pinoy touch.

Table Centerpieces with Flair:

Turn your dining table into a festive masterpiece. Grab some recycled jars, fill them with Christmas balls or fairy lights, and arrange them like a pro. Add a touch of greenery, and you’ve got a centerpiece that says, “I’m here for the feast!”

Holiday Travel Destinations:

Siargao’s Surfing Santa:

Santa Claus holds gift boxes with the ocean on backgraund. Australia, Christmas in summer time.

Dreaming of a different kind of Christmas? Head to Siargao for a tropical twist. Picture this: Santa on a surfboard, catching waves instead of riding reindeer. It’s a Christmas spectacle like no other. Bonus: You can exchange your hot cocoa for a fresh coconut!

Baguio’s Paskuhan Village:

For a chilly Pinoy Christmas, Baguio’s Paskuhan Village is a must-visit. Enjoy the cool breeze as you stroll through a sea of lights and colorful decorations. It’s like stepping into a Christmas wonderland, Pinoy style.

Bonus: How to spend the 13th Month Pay?

Now, while you’re busy styling your festive outfits and turning your home into a Christmas haven, let’s talk about that extra holiday cheer—your 13th-month pay. It’s not just a bonus; it’s the universe saying, “You survived another year, kudos!”

Whether you’re treating yourself to a holiday wardrobe upgrade, splurging on gifts, or saving up for that dream vacation, your 13th-month pay is your ticket to a little extra holiday magic. Just remember, it’s not about the amount; it’s about the joy it brings. So go ahead, and celebrate the season, Pinoy style—festive, fabulous, and filled with flair!

So, there you have it—your survival guide to November in the Philippines. Before you embark on the holiday preparations, consider your home for the festive season, as the vibrant decorations, heartfelt traditions, and Filipino flair create a unique and joyous atmosphere. Prep, plan, and savor the calm before the Christmas storm. Come December, you’ll be patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

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